French cement maker Lafarge has pleaded guilty in the US to charges of supporting the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.
This was reported by the BBC.
The firm agreed to pay a $777.8m (£687.2m) fine to pay bribes to keep its Syrian factory operating after the Middle Eastern country’s civil war broke out in 2011 Mr.
Prosecutors said it was the first case in which a company had pleaded guilty in the US to aid terrorists.
Lafarge said it “deeply regrets” the events and “takes responsibility for the individual executives involved”.
The cement maker, which was bought by Switzerland’s Holcim in 2015, said their conduct was a “gross breach” of Lafarge’s code of conduct.
The company opened its factory in Jalabiya near the Turkish border in 2010 after an investment of 680 million dollars.
US prosecutors said Lafarge’s Syrian subsidiary paid Islamic State and another terrorist group, the al-Nusra Front, the equivalent of $5.92 million to protect plant personnel as the country’s civil war raged. has strengthened. Executives have likened the arrangements to pay “taxes”, the BBC reports.
Lafarge eventually evacuated the plant in September 2014 when Islamic State took control of the town and the plant.
Lafarge previously admitted bribes were paid following an internal investigation. But US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said on Tuesday that the company’s actions “reflect corporate crime that has reached a new low and a very dark place”.
“Business with terrorists cannot be ordinary business,” she added.
In a statement, Lafarge’s new owner, Holcim, said none of the actions were related to Holcim, “which has never worked in Syria.”
It added that former Lafarge executives involved in the bribe hid it from Holcim as well as external auditors.
Eric Olsen, who led Lafarge and Holcim until 2017, stepped down following an investigation into Lafarge’s activities in Syria.
At the time, Olsen said he was not involved in any wrongdoing and was stepping down to bring “peace” to the company.
The Justice Department said senior executives at Lafarge participated in the arrangements and were aware they risked running afoul of authorities.
Lafarge is also the subject of a judicial investigation in France over its activities in Syria.